Self-Love, Part 1

Uncategorized Jul 06, 2021

The summer before 4th grade, I was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Half my face was shattered. I have metal plates where bones should exist. There is fat from my leg to help round out my cheeks. The fact that I still have hair is a miracle. My nose has been reconstructed twice. I had a facelift to hide a scar that goes almost from temple to temple up in my hairline. Laser treatments. Scar revisions. Years of appointments with a plastic surgeon.

But no one wants to hear that. 

Few people have heard the horrific details, let alone the whole story. For YEARS I avoided the topic almost as much as I avoided the mirror. 

Sometimes people ask what happened to my face. Sometimes people stare. Sometimes people say they don't notice... and that is something I am still trying to believe.  


While the conversations I had with people about the accident were always hard... the truth is - AT THE TIME - it was harder on them than it was for me.  

They would skate the surface with well-meaning comments and questions would be things like:

"You seem to be taking it well." 

"I think your scars make you more beautiful."

"It must be hard at school."

"What happened to the driver?" 

"God has a plan for you. You'll see." 

"Who was driving?" 


With their hand over their chest and an expression of pity on their face, their obvious discomfort in this conversation made me feel bad.  


I made it mean I was hard to look at. 

So, I cleaned up my answers to help them to feel better.


I trained myself to downplay the experience.

I trained myself to assure them that I was "fine."

I trained myself to say the mature, reassuring response to help others with their discomfort.


People seemed to be amazed that I wasn't visibly traumatized with what we now call PTSD. In reality, it was a coverup. Plus, NO ONE EVER ASKED ME HOW I FELT.  My emotions never came up. 


So, my post-trauma experience birthed a new layer (notice I didn't say my FIRST?) of self-conditioning to avoid rejection for having an ugly, messed-up face that was hard to look at. 

I overcompensated with my manners, charm, and personality to help people see past my scars. I nurtured my "good" behavior to overcome being a sad story.  


I have a distorted memory of someone telling me about someone they knew who had been a "bad car wreck, and they were never the same after that. It was such a shame." 

It was a simple comment with a profound effect.

  • Car Wreck = WRECKED person. 
  • Saying "Car Accident" feels better.
  • Feeling sad will make me look like a "shame."
  • People feel bad when they look at me.
  • Saying "I am happy to be alive" makes them feel better. 


What I did was discredit having been the victim of a traumatic experience for fear of being seen as a sad, victimized little girl. Of course, I didn't consciously understand this at the time, but I was aware enough to know that victims are messed up and avoided. 

Why? Because those conversations are hard. No one ever knows what to say.    


My parents did all the right things to be there for me. My fourth-grade teacher spoke to the class on the first day of school before entering the classroom. (I was in the front office until after the bell rang.) I got counseling to make sure I wasn't sad. I got surgeries as my face matured. My family went out of their way to be there for me. I had a strong group of friends and the bonus of their parents as loving supporters. I had classmates who stuck up for me when I was bullied. 

I "got" more than most when it comes to being supported through trauma. 

But, what I didn't get was learning how to love myself through my trauma.  


What no one taught me was that it was ok to be sad. It was ok to be mad. That humans are allowed to feel embarrassed. Disappointed. ANGRY. Kids are rarely taught that having a full range of feelings is ok and natural. More than that, no one mentioned that having negative emotions didn't make me a BAD kid, and having positive emotions would make me be a GOOD kid.

No one told me that because they didn't know. No one gave them permission to FEEL either.

Positive Emotions = Good, Loveable Kid (worthy of keeping)

Negative Emotions = Bad Unloveable Kid (grounds for rejecting) 

And the worst part of it all is this: While my trauma was out in the open, easy for everyone to see, the majority of humans have their own traumas that are hidden, diminished, or suppressed. Or they were raised by someone who has unhealed trauma, so emotional expression was not modeled to them either.


Which brings me to Hard Conversation #1:

Are you living with unhealed wounds? Have you convinced yourself that the past hasn't affected you? Do you have "trained" responses when it comes to talking about parts of your life? Have you done deep work but seem to still struggle with making the mental and emotional shifts? Did you "Let it Go" (whatever "IT" is) and yet still feel triggered when you bring up the topic? I encourage you to have an open, honest and hard conversation with yourself about the impact of UNhealed emotional wounds. Not all emotional wounds come from traumatic experiences (please seek the right professional for that). However, the conditioning of our behavior and beliefs we hold as TRUE hold us back in ways we don't realize because it's just how the human brain works. 


The brain makes a decision at a young age and then spends the next 30, 40, or 50+ years collecting the evidence to prove that decision was the "right." #askmehowIknow


(stay tuned for Part 2)


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Your first gift of GOLD is a Life Changing Process. 

You are going to LOVE it.